The Sony 32R400A is an LED-backlit 720p set that doesn’t try to be anything other than a simple 32-inch HDTV. It doesn’t have Web apps, it doesn’t have 3D, and it doesn’t have any other functions that make it useable without plugging in a cable, antenna, or Blu-ray player. Still, this $399.99 (direct) HDTV is worth considering if you’re looking for a smaller screen for a guest bedroom, office, or kitchen, and are on a strict budget. Even so, you won’t get as good picture quality as with our Editors’ Choice budget set, the 42-inch RCA LED42C45RQ.
Very plain looking, visually, the 32R400A is little more than a 32-inch monitor with HDMI ports. Its bezel is flat and black, only punctuated by a Sony logo and a power light. Its 3-inch-thick frame is a bit chunky compared with larger budget HDTVs like the Westinghouse UW40T2BW, despite its LED backlighting. It sits on a rectangular plastic base that keeps the screen relatively low and very stable, but doesn’t allow any pivoting adjustment.
A few basic control buttons are tucked behind the right edge of the screen, while an MHL-equipped HDMI port and a USB port sit opposite behind the left side of the screen. An additional HDMI port, along with component and composite hybrid video inputs, a 3.5mm audio output, a digital audio output, and a coaxial connector for cable or antenna can be found on the back of the screen. They’re slightly awkwardly placed if you want to mount the set on a wall.
The 6.2-inch remote is small, flat, and simple. The buttons aren’t backlit, and are clustered together fairly closely, so entering numbers blindly takes some practice. On the other hand, the direction pad and Volume and Channel buttons are large and distinct enough to find easily with your thumb.
We evaluate HDTVs using a Klein K10-A Colorimeter, DisplayMate test patterns, and SpectraCal’s CalMAN 5 diagnostic software. According to our tests, the 32R400A produces a respectable picture, albeit one that doesn’t excel at brightness, black level, or color. After basic calibration with power saving features disabled, the 32R400A produced a peak brightness of 192.83 cd/m2 and a black level of 0.1 cd/m2 for an underwhelming contrast ratio of 1,923:1. As far as color accuracy, greens lean more towards blue than they should, and reds appear darker than ideal, as the CIE color comparison chart below shows. (The boxes represent the ideal values for the colors, while the dots indicate the measured values.) To compare, the $360, 40-inch TCL LE40FHDE3000 boasts a higher contrast ratio and black level of 4,821:1 and 0.06 cd/m2 respectively, and the Toshiba 32L2200U puts out a peak brightness of 303.81 cd/m2, but has a black level of 0.14 cd/m2. Color skewing is worse on the TCL set, however.
This is only a 720p screen, so you’re not getting full 1080p HD resolution, but for its small size that’s not a major flaw. Washed out shadow and highlight details and muddled greens are the biggest problems from which the 32R400A suffers. Black Swan on Blu-ray looked a bit faded and cloudy, with the deep and textured darks not showing clearly on the screen. In Piranha on Blu-ray, the very sunny party scenes looked blown out, and the greens of plants and blue-green of the water looked undersaturated. Nothing is skewed horribly to the point of yellow or green skin, but they colors don’t have any sense of “pop,” and the mediocre contrast ratio makes both shadows and highlights feel flat. Viewing angles are excellent, though, with the picture becoming only slightly pale when viewed from the far sides, matching Sony’s claim of an 178-degree range.
As a 32-inch LED-backlit screen, the 32R400A is a modest energy user. It consumes 38 watts under normal use with power saving features turned off, and 33 watts with power saving set to low. Higher power saving features made the screen too dark to watch comfortably. The same-size Toshiba 32L2200U hits the middle ground between the two settings by consuming 35 watts, and the larger TCL 40-inch LE40FHDE3000 uses 50 watts.
The Sony 32R400A is a capable low-priced set that comes with the same flaws you get with many other budget TVs: a lack of features and middling picture quality. The colors, despite looking undersaturated, are relatively accurate compared with some other budget models. However, you can get an overall better (and larger) picture for less with the $360 40-inch TCL LE40FHDE3000. And the 42-inch RCA LED42C45RQ serves up superior picture quality for the price, so it’s our Editors’ Choice for under-$500 HDTVs.
|Video Inputs||Component, Composite, HDMI, RF, USB|
|Diagonal Screen Size||32 inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||120Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc